Chief Executive Carrie Lam says she has not given up on “mending rifts” despite controversial political events that took place during her first months in office.

Lam delivered her first policy address last month, introducing policies such as setting up an academy to train the city’s civil servants. Since the early days of her election, she has also stressed that she intends to “mend rifts in society.”

On an RTHK programme with former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang, Lam spoke of the disqualifications of lawmakerssentence reviews for democracy activists, the controversial joint checkpoint arrangement for the express rail link, and proposed amendments for the Legislative Council’s rules of procedures.

Carrie Lam (L) and Jasper Tsang (R) on an RTHK programme. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“These are by nature controversial issues. No matter how sincere I am, how many olive branches I extend, it’s difficult to immediately turn the situation around.” However, Lam said she was confident that things will improve.

Lam told Tsang that she has not given up on mending rifts, but said she will not only focus on the legislature but also on society. “Sometimes, it’s with good governance that society will come together again,” Lam added.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam. File photo: GovHK.

She denied that amending the LegCo rules of procedure will put an end to filibustering, saying that the move was not targeted towards the opposition camp. She said the rules are currently lagging behind and are incompatible with the current governing model. Removing areas that were “out of touch with society” to make the legislature’s operations smoother should not be controversial, Lam said.

Lam also said that, although the implementation of One Country, Two Systems has been successful, there is still room for improvement in relation to civil servants’ understanding of the principle.

“I always feel that we have an outstanding team of civil servants of a certain size, and there’s no reason why there isn’t a place that trains them [and gives them] a sense of belonging or identification,” Lam said.

The chief executive’s proposed civil service college in Hong Kong will aim to deepen civil servants’ understanding of China’s development and the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong. It will also aim to enhance civil servants’ awareness of international affairs, as well as promote exchanges with civil servants in other places.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.